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Combining Glassmaking With Digital Fabrication

Thu, 2017-03-23 20:41

One of the general fears with digital fabrication and robotics is that they will wipe away human artistry. But that will never happen as long as people like Stefanie Pender exist. Pender, who has degrees from both RISD and Cornell, gained proficiency in glassmaking through traditional apprenticeships; she's also well-versed in industrial robotics, programming and all things CNC. After becoming an Artist in Residence at the digital fabrication playground that is Autodesk's Pier 9, she had the opportunity to combine her specialties in a novel way.

Here's what happens when you have a curiosity-driven, manually-skilled, technical-minded, boundary-pushing artist that has been granted the resources to create her own digital tools:

Embodied Automation from Pier 9 on Vimeo.

Pender has an Instructable on her Glass Fused Filament Deposition Modeling Process here. (You have to love any Instructable that begins with "Warning! This project uses a oxygen/propane welding torch mounted to an industrial robot.") I liked reading her description of the project, as it reads like a manifesto for how to reconcile handwork with digital fabrication:

Tacit knowledge of craft processes has immense potential to enhance emerging technologies. The sensibilities gained through hands-on experience provide sophisticated comprehension of material behavior, physical properties and responsiveness to environmental conditions. These insights have led me to pursue merging traditional craft proficiency with contemporary technology in an effort to expand the boundaries of material processes. I have developed additive manufacturing processes and subtractive molding processes to integrate glass-forming techniques with robotic technology. Some of my projects are here. My embodied knowledge of material processes is essential to forging innovation with collaborative human/machine fabrication.My past efforts have demonstrated that collaborative robotic fabrication shares elements of acquired skill, similar to analogue fabrication. For complex processes, the human operator must adjust the various environmental and material parameters continually as a participant within the collaboration. These adjustments are refined with repetition, experience and accumulated skill. The feedback loop between operator, robot, tool and material is continually adjusting and adapting; observations made by the operator are nuanced, sensitive and complex. This sequence of observation, analysis, and action is tacit or embodied by its nature. As both an artist and a researcher, my objective is to develop technological systems to support the integration of embodied human knowledge: how can the nuanced behaviors of a human operator be translated to data for the purpose of designing customized hardware and software? At Pier 9, I pursued these lines of inquiry and developed novel fabrication strategies that exploit inherent physical phenomena accessed through the digital automation of process.

Coincidentally, this week we saw another designer with a background in glassmaking pushing the boundaries of her chosen material. Check out Rebecca Erde's Traditional Japanese Wood Joinery Cast in Glass.

Design Job: Turn It Up! Bose is Seeking a UX Design Technologist in Westborough, MA

Thu, 2017-03-23 20:41

The Product Communications & Design department at Bose is looking for a passionate UX Design Technologist looking to create new and compelling digital experiences. Our creative group creates customer-facing communications for site, social and online advertising building brand affinity and educating consumers about new products. The ideal candidate is a

View the full design job here

Steven M. Johnson's Bizarre Invention #58: Unusual Bike Seat for Kids

Thu, 2017-03-23 20:41

Editor's Note: Steven M. Johnson's "Patent Depending" series of inventions range from social commentary to plain ol' bizarre, and they always give us a laugh. So we've contracted him to let us publish one every week.

Up this week: For those who cycle, and for whom their baby is the hub of their life....

Yo! C77 Sketch: Why is Sketching so Important? (Plus a Bonus Home Studio Tour)

Thu, 2017-03-23 20:41

I'm really excited to be able to share this short video interview I did for Advanced Design Sketching with you today. In this video I answer the question: Why is sketching still so important in today's design world? With all of the digital tools we have, why is it still relevant? Why are non-designers seemingly entranced by it, and why does it seem to facilitate solution finding? I also give you a bonus behind the scenes look at my home design studio! Can a bonus be at the beginning of something? This one is at the beginning. I like to eat dessert first. If you have watched any of my previous videos you have seen the sketch on my desk. Today I zoom out to show you what you don't see.

People often ask me, "why is sketching so important?" I think they may be thinking of sketching as a skill. I don't really see sketching as a skill. I see sketching as a way of thinking, a way of processing thoughts and organizing them. As you're processing those thoughts, you're visually thinking out loud on the page...an idea exists in your mind, the beauty of a sketch is that it can help you take that idea and push it out in the world. I can transfer a thought from my mind to yours with a 30 second doodle, and we can have a conversation about it, build on it, and slowly that thought transforms from MY idea, to OUR idea—that is when things get really interesting.

Yo! C77 Sketch is a video series from Core77 forum moderator and prolific designer, Michael DiTullo. In these tutorials, DiTullo walks you through step by step rapid visualization and ideation techniques to improve your everyday skills. Tired of that guy in the studio who always gets his ideas picked because of his hot sketches? Learn how to beat him at his own game, because the only thing worse than a bad idea sketched well is a great idea sketched poorly.

Tools & Craft #40: Designing Functional Furniture is Hard

Thu, 2017-03-23 20:41

In 1984, art dealer Sandy Millikan sat down with Wendell Castle and said, "Wendell, if you do another show of furniture, you are going to get labeled a furnituremaker. If you want to be an artist and be in the fine arts world, I think you have to deal with the issue of art. Now how do we do that?" (The quote is from Fine Woodworking #59.) The result was a exhibition of thirteen clocks, including the non-functional "Ghost Clock" which is one of the centerpieces of the modern furniture on display in the permanent collection of the Renwick Gallery in Washington DC.

The Renwick, which is part of the Smithsonian Institute, states on their website: "The collection, exhibition program and publications presented by the Renwick Gallery highlight the best craft objects and decorative arts from the 19th century to the present."

But it doesn't. And this is what so disappointing to me. What it mostly shows is well-made art objects that have no relationship at all to the working craftspeople in this country.

One of the glaring differences between the furniture in great collections such as Winterthur, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Kaufman collection at the National Gallery is that the furniture in those collections represents the high end of furniture that was actually used. Some cabinetmaker, signed or anonymous, made something for some customer, and it got delivered and used in their house. Sure, it's mostly fancy stuff, but the work had context. These days hundreds of cabinetmakers are making furniture and architectural woodwork pieces—some spectacular—that have similar context, for use the way people use built objects today. The museum world ignores them.

How is anyone supposed to learn about how modern craft fits in their world if the educational resources are stuck in an ivory tower? Where are the exhibits of real modern woodworking? I have customers who are doing spectacular work for clients. Sometimes it's furniture, but more usually interiors. Bedrooms, living rooms, and of course, kitchens. It's not all good, but some is real great, and some shows great craft.

By the way, Wendell Castle is a really talented guy, an early issue of FWW showed off some of his more useful functional pieces. It's a shame that the Renwick isn't showing something that is much harder to design than an art piece. You see, to design a piece of furniture (or building) that is functional, useful, and also passes a sniff test of master craftsmanship, art, and engenders thoughtful discussion is a lot harder than just making some art piece. I think also in our society if a piece is functional it's automatically downgraded from being art.

Yes, you say, but what about the Maloof double rocker and Krenov cabinet on display in the same exhibit? Those pieces are functional. They are, and I was very happy to see them. I'm a big Maloof fan and copied one of his desks years ago. But I would suggest that the pieces on display by both Krenov and Maloof are more art pieces than other furniture these makers made for use in daily life.

The Krenov cabinet, which is elegant and lovely, isn't a practical piece in any modern context. It's a curio cabinet, not a take on furniture that Americans regularly use in their houses.

The Maloof double rocker is almost a joke on his signature single rocker, which is awesome. Maloof built hundreds of pieces that are absolutely modern in their usage. This chair is a collectible—more than something one would sit in every day. His rockers are great modern furniture and what would you rather own, one of his regular rockers that are comfortable and fun, or this double rocker, which you might sit in when? His desks are wonderful examples on how modern craft can interpret classic forms.

Here is what I want to see at the Renwick: An exhibit of modern desks. I want to see what people are making to actually use as desks in the modern computer age. From fancy financial workstations, to something elegant and comfortable that works with my laptop and printer. I want to be inspired. I want to see the best of modern architectural woodworking. For example, more than a decade ago there was a bar in NYC called Iridium where upstairs the interior looked like it was built by the mad hatter's cabinetmaker. Nothing was square, everything was curved, crazy, and unbelievably cool. (I haven't been there in over a decade, and I don't know what remains of the original interior.) But that's great design, and great craft was needed to pull it off. This is what should be on exhibit.

Note: Another issue I have with the Renwick—and just about every furniture exhibit on the planet—is the insistence of curators to display all furniture on three inch platforms. Sure it's great for making sure people don't bump into valuable stuff, but the raised height gives a deceptive sense of scale to the work.

Some museums do it right. Many years ago I was at the Design Museum at Canary Wharf in London, and in addition to all the stuff roped off, the museum had assembled a group of about a dozen modern chairs, all reproductions of the iconic designs of the twentieth century, and you were welcome to sit in them. I learned more about chairs and appreciating modern design in twenty minutes that you could possibly believe.


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.

BioLite's Collapsible Fabric Lantern & Other NanoGrid Products

Thu, 2017-03-23 20:41

You know those globe-like paper lanterns that you can get for a couple of bucks at your local Chinatown? Those are great for providing soft, ambient lighting and I've got several in my apartment. They're also terribly fragile, of course, and are only meant to live indoors. 


BioLite, however, has figured out how you can bring that quality of illumination with you to the campsite. Check out their SiteLight XL, which is lightweight and easily breaks down for transport:

While they've designed it to be used with any USB power source, BioLite is doing what Apple used to be really good at: Developing a product ecosystem whose components work better together, providing both ease-of-use and increased functionality.

If you use their new BaseLantern XL, a sandwich-sized, solid-form-factor light source and battery, as the power source, you can dim the light via Bluetooth. Daisy-chain their new SiteLight Mini string lights and you can provide still more ambient lighting, or set a boundary that whoever lost at cards that night is not allowed to cross.

Here's how their NanoGrid system, as they collectively refer to their products, is meant to work together:

The BaseLantern XL, Sitelight XL and SiteLight Minis are scheduled to launch next month.

The UnSit Treadmill Desk Takes Standing at Work to an Entirely New Level

Thu, 2017-03-23 20:41

This project was brought to us by Rob Jacobs who had a great idea for the world’s first treadmill optimized for use under a stand-up desk. They call it a WalkingPlatform, the Walk-1. Together with the UnSit team we developed this idea from a rough proof of concept to a fully manufactured product giving him the function they wanted and the ability to bring this concept to market.

View the full content here

Design Job: Pimp My Ride: Lethal Threat Designs is Seeking a Full or Part Time Graphic Designer in Yonkers, NY

Wed, 2017-03-22 20:40

Full Time or Part Time Position Graphic Designer Position // Yonkers, NY Motorcycle/ Tattoo Apparel Company- seeking highly skilled graphic designer with illustration skills, fashion back ground a plus. Fast paced work environment, wide variety of design jobs, one day can be doing a catalog

View the full design job here

With Their Bit Bar EDC Screwdriver, Big Idea Design Scores Their 16th Successful Kickstarter

Wed, 2017-03-22 20:40

Chadwick Parker and Joe Huang, the industrial design duo behind Big Idea Design, have done it again: Sixteen successful Kickstarter campaigns and counting! And two of their last four campaigns broke the $200,000 mark, which the current one might as well. Even if it doesn't, it's already a smash hit: The Bit Bar is compact, yet actually useable screwdriver and bit holder that's already over 1,000% funded.

Parker and Huang were seeking $10,000, and at press time were up to $136,934 in pledges with 27 days left in the campaign. We're mightily impressed with their consistent ability to figure out what people want or need, design a superior or more desirable alternative to what exists, then get it manufactured.

We've written more about what makes these guys so successful here:

Turning Kickstarter into Kickcontinuer

An Enzo Mari Project For The Elementary School Set

Wed, 2017-03-22 20:40

The fun, functional control of hands-on fabrication is no secret to designers, and it's similarly obvious to kids. You could say the same for the creative potential of simple materials. The new Hamaika furniture project, created by Spanish designer Unai Rollan, taps into that tactile interest, blending simplicity and functionality for both adults and not-there-yets. 

The name Hamaika is Basque for 'eleven,' which references the project's core design feature: each piece of furniture is made from 11 pieces of wood, each cut to the same length. 

The little chair in particular captures the pared down inventiveness of Enzo Mari's DIY minimalism with an IKEA-type user-friendliness. 

The result is a small person sized piece of furniture that would be easy to use as a learning project on tools and dynamic center of balance. Or it could be the base for more creative expression, a blank canvas for your progeny's monstrous Mod Podge masterpiece.

Mmm, flat packin'

Given the blatant simplicity of the idea, it could be accomplished on your own with a few tools and without buying more than a 1x4 or two. But for parents or interior decorators with limited space and time, the flat packing Hamaika could be a gentle learning curve on which to introduce the importance of stark modernist anti-capitalist furniture design. 

As they say, it's never too early to teach them that "design is dead."

Giphy Adds .Gifs For Social Good

Wed, 2017-03-22 20:40

The folks at Giphy, that stalwart provider of looping cats and people falling down, are getting slyly socially active. Last week the company added a library of over 2,000 GIFs intended to teach words and phrases in American Sign Language. The project might seem like an odd match, given the meme-heavy use of the form, but the producers have high hopes. 

ASL is the third most spoken language in the U.S. and almost exclusively visual. Harnessing the physical nature of the language, the looping repetition of the video form, and the easily shared nature of GIFs, they expect the videos to get traction with both hearing and non-hearing users.  



The series was conceived by Giphy video artist Wallis Millar-Blanchaer and Stephanie Weber, a Giphy studios coordinator. The videos are cut from the educational YouTube series Sign With Robert, where full length videos feature introductory and conversational skills. 

The GIF format is a charming distillation of the often complex language, and the Sign With Robert series seems to have been a solid choice. The clear visuals and customary facial cues double as easy to follow and true to practice.


Hell yeah GRASS



To start, the library was developed based on users' top searches on the site, then those terms were tailored and rounded out with the Sign With Robert team. The result is an interesting mix of easy and compounding terms, built with an attention to detail around the language as it is used in the real world.

As Millar-Blanchaer related to Mashable, "In our initial cut for the GIF for 'bachelorette party,' we unintentionally and unknowingly had edited it in a way that looked like the women were being called 'bitches.'" Issues like these, involving the subtlety of pronunciation, often arise in language education tools, so it's heartening to see the project working with seasoned educators and meeting them head on. With a focus on real world use, simple (seeming) tools like this might creep into all types of education. 

Check out the full collection at Giphy.com/SignWithRobert.

Any other ideas where this principle would be useful? Sketching basics, maybe?

Animals with Patagia are Freaky But Awesome

Wed, 2017-03-22 20:40

This clip has been making the social media rounds, and I can't stop watching it. The way the thing is able to stabilize in flight, then braces for the landing:

That's a sugar glider, a marsupial native to Australia, and the skin folds that enable it to glide are called the patagium. 

Evolution is a strange thing, and other non-related animals in other parts of the world also have patagia. For instance, in North America and parts of northern Europe they've got flying squirrels with patagia, and those are rodents, not marsupials:

This little guy is called the Sulawesi Lined Gliding Lizard, native to Indonesia, and it's obviously a reptile:

Then there's the Colugo, a/k/a the Flying Lemur, which is a mammal:

Mother Colugo carrying her baby

Colugos may look evil and scary, but they're actually not dangerous at all. These guys below, however, are:

Implanted Google Home Ad Sparks Debate

Wed, 2017-03-22 20:40

Recently, some Google Home owners have been noticing something odd going on with their devices. When asked a typical question one might expect to ask the smart speaker, customers like Bryson Meunier took note of an extra piece of information tacked on to their daily weather report:

New Beauty & the Beast promo is one way Google could monetize Home. cc: @gsterling @dannysullivan pic.twitter.com/9UlukSocrO

— brysonmeunier (@brysonmeunier) March 16, 2017 ">

After getting plenty of flack online from consumers and tech sites about this confusing message, Google replied to tech blog The Verge with a response that raises some questions: 

"This wasn't intended to be an ad. What's circulating online was a part of our My Day feature, where after providing helpful information about your day, we sometimes call out timely content. We're continuing to experiment with new ways to surface unique content for users and we could have done better in this case."

Whether or not this content was intended to be an ad for one brings to light the fact that with products like these, the language and phrasing of what is relayed through the device matters. If consumers are to truly believe that Google gains no promotional advantage from placements like this, seems as if they're going to have hide the evidence a little better than that (in my perspective, the background music in this video clip really gives it away). 

In the Core77 discussion boards, readers bring up another good point about this conundrum. MK19 writes, 

"Obviously the cost of the product is subsidized because this is how they will ultimately make money back - but if you paid anything for the product at all should you not be able to opt out? Should they be selling a higher cost version which opts out of ads? Many questions arise for the future from this as a Product Designer."

Google has since ceased sharing this "content" with Google Home owners, claiming that those with the Home won't be hearing any more of these ads or ones similar to them. However, knowing even a little bit about the timeline of Google and its complicated history with ads (the founders prior to starting the site were notably anti-ad), it's hard not to see this as a potentially naive farce. 

In the boards, Cyberdemon digs into Google's Terms of Service to investigate Google's leeway in situations like this where lines are blurred between content and promotion, finding this subsection:

"Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored."

MK19 follows this with a breakdown of what this particular part of the agreements means for this particular Beauty and the Beast ad.

"So in order to defend this you would have to be claiming;

A: The owner frequently visits the cinema. and/or, 

B: The owner has shown interest in Beauty and the Beast through Google Searches or YouTube video views or other. and/or, 

C: The owner has shown interest in [insert actor] who features in the film through other Google services.

If any of these or similar are the case then I agree the "ad" is more acceptable. However, what is your opinion if none of these examples or similar are true and relevant?

Also do you think whether or not it is an "ad" depends upon whether it is financially motivated or not? I would say that is an objective differentiator, personally."

It's important to note that some who reported hearing the ad were not searching for the film previously or anything seemingly related. What many people seem to be asking after this incident is, does Google have the right to bombard us for advertisements that we never even asked for? Cyberdemon brings up in the boards an interesting thought to ponder:

"After the rest of the info came out, I agree it's not acceptable (but predictable) [...]

But either way, as with all IoT type hardware, sadly you own very little of it. Just because you paid for the hardware does not entitle you to the same level of "Rights" that it used to. Service providers have a big stake in the game. Same reason you can't go out and buy an Unlocked phone for the same cost as a subsidized device."

So we're interested to hear from you designers—how do you feel about tech product's intimate relationship nowadays with the worlds of advertising and marketing? Is the incorporation of advertising in products avoidable? How will this change the trajectory and function of tech products in the future?

Share your thoughts by contributing in the comment thread below or on the original discussion board

Reader Submitted: Traditional Japanese Wood Joinery Cast in an Untraditional Material: Glass

Wed, 2017-03-22 20:40

I have created Japanese Joinery cast in glass. The process goes from 3D model to 3D print to rubber mold to wax to plaster silica and finally glass.

Nejire-kumi-tsguiteCast in glass at Corning Museum of GlassCredit: Rebecca ErdeNejire-kumi-tsguiteCast in glass at Corning Museum of GlassCredit: Rebecca ErdeNejire-kumi-tsguite rubber moldRubber mold created at Corning Museum of GlassCredit: Rebecca ErdeNejire-kumi-tsguite plaster silica moldMold created at Corning Museum of GlassCredit: Rebecca ErdeShihou-hozo-tsguiteCast in glass at UrbanGlass in Brooklyn, NYCredit: Rebecca ErdeKawai-tsguite joint moldMold created at Corning Museum of GlassCredit: Rebecca ErdeKawai-tsuguite in two orientationsGlass cast at UrbanGlass in Brooklyn, NYCredit: Rebecca ErdeKawai-tsuguite in one orientationCredit: Rebecca ErdeSimple Dovetail in GlassView the full project here

Primer 2017: A Speculative Futures Conference

Wed, 2017-03-22 20:40

Drawing a crowd of designers, educators, futurists, and social innovators, Primer2017—the first dedicated speculative futures conference—opened in style at the grand Grey Area theatre in the Mission district of San Francisco.

Organized by Phil Balagtas, the founding member of the San Francisco based Speculative Futures meet-up, the two day conference promised a range of presentations and workshops from designers, strategists, and educators who are 'using speculative and futures design thinking as a tool to create strategies for addressing the evolving world and the emerging technologies and issues that are unfolding within it.'

A video overview from the Primer2017 conference last month generated by the organisers of the Speculative Futures meetup in San Francisco and Austin

Founded in 2015, the Speculative Futures meet-up has attracted many followers from the Bay area (now with a growing membership of more than 900), and another chapter recently opened up in Austin. In addition to providing a platform for speculative design discussions, the meet-up has run various training workshops keen to demonstrate and implement the benefits of futures design methods and strategies to the fast-paced tech-focused corporations in the Bay Area.

Based on the theme of Emergent Pathways, the conference aimed to forge connections between fields and disciplines. It began by opening up a casual debate around terminology between advocates of the terms speculative and critical design and those who prefer the term 'design fiction.'

Although wide ranging and broad, this conference was the beginning of a very much needed platform for open discussion and critique around the global and local impacts of speculative design and futures thinking in commercial, educational and cultural practices.

In the current political climate, all culture-providers—including designers—are considering their role. With cultural funding on the chopping block, the effectiveness of practices that foster curiosity and enquiry in the public is a vitally important topic.

Those able to join the opening party at Parisoma were treated to a selection of short presentations called "lightning talks," including those by Joseph Kappes of Cooper and RCA professor and speculative designer J. Paul Neeley. Neeley introduced nightnight.??? , a website plugin that turns your website off at night, encouraging you to log off and sleep—a spin off product from his happiness optimization company, Masamichi Souzou.

To set us up for a full day session of back-to-back speakers, the doors opened early for breakfast networking fueled by infamous power foods Soylent and Kind granola bars.

Visitors conduct a job interview for 2035 with the HyperMind supercomputer. Image from Christian Ervin's talk discussing the Museum of the Futures Machinic Life exhibition at the World Government Summit in Dubai implemented by Tellart for the Prime Ministers Office, UAE.

We kicked off the opening session with some techno utopian visual candy of Tellart's futures work for the Prime Minister's office of United Arab Emirates and their Museum of the Future initiative, entitled 'The Future Is Dead, Long Live the Future." Design director, Christian Ervin shared insight into Tellart's futures thinking principles and gave an overview of the range of interactive prototypes and immersive scenarios built for the Museum.

Range of futures techniques implemented by Tellarts during the production for UAE's Museum of the Future initiative

Other conference highlights from the day's presentations include one from Paolo Cardini, an associate professor of industrial design at RISD, who introduced his Souvenir From the Futures initiative—a more inclusive workshop approach to speculative design exploring ways to refocus the creation of objects and futures from a global perspective.

Paolo Cardini's questions the western idea of the future and how to reformulate our assumptions for a more inclusive social critique. His futures workshops in India and Iran encourage participants to construct their image and understandings of the future outside of external influences with the help of local crafts people. Image from Paolo Cardini's Deglobalizer project showcased during Design Days Dubai in 2014 . An IKEAHACKING project where global standard designed objects and local handcrafting converge to a common recognizable hybrid.

Beverley May of The Concepts Lab shared her process of combining user centered design thinking with various futuring techniques to design the future dashboard of an autonomous vehicle. Andrés Valencia, co-founder of Change Innovation, inspired us all with his plan to create a more socially engaged design resistance in Guadalajara.

Andres Valencia's shares a series of stills from Mexico 2000 (1983) The first satirical sci-fi he saw set in a utopian alternative future of Mexico where everyone is healthy and eating fruit, politicians wear traditional costumes and police officers are also friendly tour guides.

After a lunch break, the talks turned towards the architectural fictions by Jason Kelly Johnson, a critical overview of why 'speculative design works by not working' from James Pierce, and insights into the role of VR research on social rituals and immersive ideation spaces for Steelcase by Scott Fisher & Joshua McVeigh-Schultz

Theater of Lost Species digital menagerie project from Jason Kelly Johnson's Future Cities Lab James Pierce shares his concrete encased Obscura 1C Digital Camera. Part of his counterfunctional thesis exploring how speculative design intentionally creates friction along the way to pragmatic design solutions.In-world VR ideation space from from Joshua McVeigh-Schultz's current work to envision the future of industrial design through a partnership with Steelcase's Futures of Work group.

The final session ended with two compelling approaches to design and futuring from two very different practices. With her collection of morbidly curious, tantalizing and graphically disturbing 'Simulating corpoREALITIES', transdisciplinary designer Agi Haines shared her fascinating research and experiments exploring the body as material for speculation. Her presentation explored ways the human body might use emerging technologies to adapt to an ever changing world with design proposals, including bioprinted hybrid organs using cells from various non-human species, and transhuman designer babies evolved to adapt to a changing climate.

Design Interactions graduate and PhD researcher at Transtechnology Research, Plymouth University., Agi Haines shared her Simulating corpoREALITIES talk discussing work focused on the design of the human body. Image from Agi Haines Transfigurations project depicting designs for potential body enhancements that have been surgically implemented to benefit the child in a changing climate. In this instance extending the skin on the scalp to increase surface area for faster heat dissipation. An inflatable drone that learns to adapt to its space with a built in artificial neural network based on Agi Haines' brain data from her Drones With Desires project.

The final keynote came from Carmen Aguilar y Wedge and Ashley Baccus-Clark of Hyphen-Labs and their head spinning NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism NSAF Not Safe As Fuck project. Created by and for women of color, and situated in a multi-layered possible future "neurocosmetology lab" where no groups are excluded, Hyphen-Labs presented their scientific research combined with a series of speculative design products, such as camera earrings that can record police altercations, camouflage fabrics and dichroic visors that prevent facial recognition, and transcranial hair braid electrodes to stimulate an increased flow of concentration.

UV Beams is the foundation to a range of speculative products ideas generated by Hyphen-Labs. Perplexed by the eurocentric sunscreens that leave white residue on darker complexions, they generated their own clear, matte sunblock formulation for skin with high melanin content. Octavia are a set of hair braid transcranial electrodes speculative product from Hyphen Labs NSAF 'neuro cosmetology lab'.Range of speculative products from Hyphen Labs NeuroSpecualtive AfroFeminism project on display at the Primer 2017 conference. Image Credit: Primer.

In addition to the series of talks, the Primer conference exhibited a small range of works by visiting speakers and students of design from California College Of Arts, and hosted a series of three workshops conducted by Scott Paterson of IDEO, Jose de la O of Cooperativa Panorámica and J Paul Neeley.

Title image comes from Christian Ervin's talk at Primer2017 in the magnificent Grey Area theatre describing Tellart's tangible futures approach to generating high-fidelity theatrical scenarios. Image credit: Primer

Adidas Experimenting With On-Demand Clothing

Wed, 2017-03-22 20:40

The business of making and selling clothes has waste built right into the process: Rolls of fabric have patterns cut out of them, creating unusable scraps; retailers must guess what will be popular and how many units will sell, and whatever doesn't move becomes clearance. That results in slashed price tags, eroding profits.

A research project out of Germany involving Adidas, academics, industrial partners and with the support of the German government is looking to tackle this problem. For the past few months they've been testing an Adidas-branded pop-up shop in Berlin where customers come in, get a body scan and "design" their own sweater by manipulating patterns. An industrial knitting machine located on-site then spits the sweater out.

Here's what the process looks like in action:

The process is not immediate, as shown in the video, nor does the machine do all of the work; human hands finish the sweater, then wash and dry it on-site. Real-life elapsed time is about four hours.

Still, four hours is a lot faster than the months of lead time required to source sweaters the conventional way, and that's what's got Adidas interested. "Fast fashion" is tricky to execute, and making clothes on-demand obviates the clearance problem. According to Reuters,

Adidas wants 50 percent of its products to be made in a faster time frame by 2020, double the rate in 2016, which it expects will increase the proportion of products sold at full price to 70 percent from less than half now.

"If we can give the consumer what they want, where they want it, when they want it, we can decrease risk ... at the moment we are guessing what might be popular," Adidas brand chief Eric Liedtke told investors last week.

The trial run, which just wrapped last week, is called "Knit for You." The company is now evaluating the results and deciding whether or not to pursue this strategy.

Sneakers, as we saw, are fiendishly complicated to manufacture. But should Adidas pursue on-demand wholeheartedly it's not difficult to imagine, with the design of clever machines, made-to-order, while-you-wait sneakers in our future.

Design Job: Encourage Students to Pursue Creative Careers as SCAD's Chair of Industrial Design in Savannah, GA

Wed, 2017-03-22 20:40

SCAD seeks a multidisciplinary designer who understands the human user, business context and effective application of technology to chair the industrial design department. This award-winning program cultivates highly motivated, visionary students who consider business challenges while creating and communicating innovative solutions that improve people’s lives. As the full-time chair of the department at SCAD Savannah, you will advance these objectives and prepare the next generation of creative leaders.

View the full design job here

Dutch Concept for Circular Airport Runways

Tue, 2017-03-21 20:22

The Aero-Loop was designer Thor Yi Chun's proposal for an airport with banked, circular runways. The idea was that it would take up much less space than an airport with conventional runways.

Thor's proposal was for a design competition some years ago and the idea was never seriously pursued. But now Henk Hesselink, an aviation expert of the Netherlands Aerospace Centre, has proposed a similar concept called the Endless Runway.

Hesselink reckons that with a circular runway, planes can always land in a headwind, altering their point of touchdown depending on which direction the wind is traveling. And in calm conditions, the runway could conceivably be used, he claims, by three airplanes simultaneously. Here's how it would look and operate:

2017 World Happiness Report Released

Tue, 2017-03-21 20:22

"…The pursuit of happiness" is written right in our Declaration of Independence, but while we Americans pursue it, we're lousy at attaining it. The U.N.-commissioned 2017 World Happiness Report has been released and we're not even in the top ten.

The report, put together by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, comes out each year. The idea is that world leaders can review the document to see where and how to improve their own citizens' well-being.

So how do you measure happiness? The SDSN looks at survey results from 155 countries that provide data on the following positive and negative areas:

GDP per capita. Self-explanatory.

Freedom to make life choices. Self-explanatory.

Healthy life expectancy. Self-explanatory.

Social support. Not government-based; specifically they're asking "If you were in trouble, do you have relatives or friends you can count on to help you whenever you need them, or not?"

Generosity. Specifically, "Have you donated money to a charity in the past month?"

Corruption. Do you feel you can trust the government in your country?

Positive affect. How often do you experience laughter and enjoyment?

Negative affect. How often do you experience worry, sadness and anger?

As they do every year, Scandinavia just crushes it. Here are the top ten rankings and their scores, with 8 indicating Utopia:

1. Norway (7.537)
2. Denmark (7.522)
3. Iceland (7.504)
4. Switzerland (7.494)
5. Finland (7.469)
6. Netherlands (7.377)
7. Canada (7.316)
8. New Zealand (7.314)
9. Australia (7.284)
10. Sweden (7.284)

The U.S. is 14, just ahead of Ireland and just behind Austria. If you want to see where your country is, you can download the PDF here. If you're too lazy to do that, I'll put the image of the charts down at the bottom of this entry.

In addition to the main document, the SDSN has also put together some supplementary reports, like "Happiness at Work:" "Since the majority of people spend much of their lives at work, it is critically important to gain a solid understanding of the role that employment and the workplace play in shaping happiness for individuals and communities around the world."

Freelancers get a shout-out here: "We find that being self-employed is associated with higher overall life evaluation in most developed nations, but that self-employment is also associated with the heightened experience of negative emotions such as stress and worry." I'll have to say that's true.

Obviously they didn't drill down as specifically as "industrial designer," but if you want to find the column that your job falls within, and are curious how your Job + Life Evaluation stacks up against the others around the world, here's one of the charts:

Sorry for the blurry text, that's how they provided it. So this happiness report is probably making graphic designers unhappy.

The "Cantril Ladder of Life" they're referring to basically means "On a scale of 1-10."

Here's how job satisfaction looks around the world:

The percentages of folks satisfied with their jobs:

The document(s) are huge, but they're free, so those of you interested in this sort of thing ought flip through them. One surprising tidbit I found is that folks in China are no happier now than they were 25 years ago, despite that nation's staggering industrial growth. "[Researchers] attribute the [low] happiness…to rising unemployment and fraying social safety nets."

We Americans are no better off. A sub-document called "Restoring American Happiness" had this to say:

The central paradox of the modern American economy, as identified by Richard Easterlin (1964, 2016), is this: income per person has increased roughly three times since 1960, but measured happiness has not risen. The situation has gotten worse in recent years: per capita GDP is still rising, but happiness is now actually falling. The predominant political discourse in the United States is aimed at raising economic growth, with the goal of restoring the American Dream and the happiness that is supposed to accompany it. But the data show conclusively that this is the wrong approach. The United States can and should raise happiness by addressing America's multi-faceted social crisis— rising inequality, corruption, isolation, and distrust—rather than focusing exclusively or even mainly on economic growth, especially since the concrete proposals along these lines would exacerbate rather than ameliorate the deepening social crisis.

Yeah, good luck with that!

Hey Norway, you got room for one more?

LAYER's New Workspace is Part Gallery, Part Studio

Tue, 2017-03-21 20:22

After Benjamin Hubert rebranded his studio to become LAYER a little over a year ago, the experience design studio has been anything but quiet. Rolling out projects like the GO wheelchair and the LABB watchband, the agency is already pushing boundaries in the realm of human centered design. Until now, what has remained quiet is the space where the magic happens. 

LAYER's new 3,500 sqft warehouse in Hackney, London resembles a gallery space more than anything. The white walls with colored deep-set display boxes show off projects to visitors and clients in an aesthetically pleasing way:

The workspaces are minimal with a few different collaborative rooms for designers to work and share ideas, including a mildly intimidating conference room.

Soft grey room dividers make the space able to accommodate various meeting types and sizes.

The workspaces definitely won't look this clean forever—these images are good vision board inspiration for when your studio starts looking cluttered though, I guess.

It's refreshing to see a studio display their industrial and furniture design work as as stand alone art pieces. On a slightly unrelated note, LAYER's muted color scheme is inspiring me to redecorate my primary color-centric apartment. 


Benjamin Hubert is the Design Concept Jury Captain for the 2017 Core77 Design Awards.  There's still time left to apply and have your work reviewed by the influential industrial designer! Final Deadline is March 29, 2017.