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The Mellow Drive: A Slick Way to Motorize Any Skateboard

Thu, 2017-04-20 18:44

From Germany comes the Mellow Drive, a smartly designed, Red-Dot-Design-Award-winning way to motorize any skateboard. Look at how easy they've made this:

The thing tops out at 25 miles per hour and has a range of nine miles. And as they mentioned in the video, you can double that range by carrying an extra battery. What they didn't show you in the video is that the battery pack can also be used to charge your devices:

I'm loving the simplicity and practicality of the design, and am impressed by its range and power. The fact that it's easy on the eyes doesn't hurt either.

The Mellow Drive is produced by Mellow Board, a company that got their start as one of the first projects on Kickstarter when it opened up to Germany in 2015. And looking at their roster of employees, it's no secret why the Mellow Drive is as slick as it is: In addition to one of the founders being an ex-engineer for BMW, they've got on staff a mechanical engineer, an industrial designer, a UI/UX designer and two industrial design students working on "aesthetic engineering." Job well done!


Useless Product Design: Reporter Discovers $400 Juice Machine's Job Can be Done Faster by Hand

Thu, 2017-04-20 18:44

This is hilarious: 

A company called Juicero Inc., one of "the top-funded U.S. hardware startups in 2016," according to Bloomberg, produces this eponymous $400 cold-press juice machine. 

The end user pays $5 to $8 to have sealed pouches of fruit and vegetable parts mailed to them on a subscription basis. To get the juice, the user places these pouches in the machine, which is capable of "four tons of force," and the machine squeezes the juice out of the bags for you. 

But Bloomberg reporters discovered that you could simply squeeze the bags by hand:

The machine took two minutes to evacuate all 8 ounces of juice. The reporter took 1.5 minutes to squeeze out 7.5 ounces.

Last year, when the Juicero cost $700, the company's CEO boasted about the machine to Recode:

There are 400 custom parts in here. There's two motors, there's 10 printed circuit boards, there's a scanner, there's a microprocessor, there's a wireless chip, wireless antenna. There's 775 aircraft-grade aluminum. There's a gear box. There's latches that support 16,000 pounds of force.

So why is there a scanner, microprocessor, wireless chip and wireless antenna? Because the machine scans the pre-packaged juice and won't press it if it's expired. This is an absolutely crucial feature for those who cannot read an expiration date, maintain an awareness of what the current date is, and compare the two.

To be fair, the company deserves praise for having set up the infrastructure to source fresh ingredients directly from farms and packaging them for consumers. In a perfect world, they would ditch the machine and be in the business of selling juice packets to customers. But all of those investors—Juicero racked up some $120 million in funding—are probably going to want to see a greater return on their investment.

Capture Moments Inside and Outside of the Car with VAVA Dash Cam

Thu, 2017-04-20 18:44

The VAVA Dash Cam swivels 360° to capture any angle inside and outside the car. It is designed to make driving a safer and more social experience. From recording accidents to documenting road trips and carpool karaoke singing moments, the VAVA Dash Cam was created for the everyday driver to do and see more on the road while providing greater safety and ease of use.

View the full content here

WantedDesign's Schools Workshop Will Explore Tech and Tradition

Thu, 2017-04-20 18:44

This upcoming New York Design Week, WantedDesign will mark its fourth year hosting their Design Schools Workshop. The workshop brings together students from five different design programs to create objects over an intensive four day period. Each year involves experimenting with different materials to come up with a novel product, but 2017 is the very first year Wanted will make tech an active and essential ingredient to the equation. Under the wing of Pratt's Chair of Industrial Design Constantin Boym, starting May 17th students from Centro (Mexico), Art Center College for Design (Pasadena), Aalto University (Finland), ENSCI Les Ateliers (France) and of course Pratt (Brooklyn) will begin their "HyperHybrid" design workshop in Industry City.

The theme of 'HyperHybrid' asks participating teams not only to create objects that combine new technologies such as 3D printing and traditional making processes using textiles and wood—Boym also had the idea of having teams create objects that were "multifunctional", or items that could be used in a variety of different applications. This prompt is, as WANTED describes, "in response to complex requirements of today's lifestyle and living environment." 

WantedDesign spoke with Constantin Boym about his ideas regarding this year's rendition of the Design Schools Workshop and what he hopes to see by the end of the quick fire week full of design collaboration.

This year's theme for the Workshop is HyperHybrid, Celebrating Differences. Can you elaborate about the theme and how you expect to see it translated into objects?

In a way, the theme was clear from the beginning. From the outset I was struck by the diversity of the participants who come from five very different cultures. The technology, this year, also has also been set up as a mix: advanced 3D printing with traditional wood and textile crafts. So I thought about celebrating these differences and diversity. To drive the point down, I added another component to the blend: a requirement of more than one function for each object. Hence, the hybrid nature of the objects is the condition the workshop is supposed to explore. I see this theme as very timely in social and even political sense, as an opportunity to collaborate and to juxtapose different cultural expressions. The challenge is to avoid pastiche and create objects that have vitality and strength, without sacrificing their usefulness.

Mixed material prototypesWhat will be the biggest challenge for the students this year?

3D printing has some inherent limitations, and also a certain leeway time is needed to print the parts. Therefore, students have to think fast. Some initial brainstorming will be done in advance, via Skype and FaceTime. Still, they will have only a couple of days to integrate their ideas, to transform sketches into technical drawings, and then produce 3D files.

What do you see as the most valuable aspects of the workshop?

An opportunity to work with students from around the world, to experience their ways of working, their point of view. And also, a chance for young people to immerse themselves into the midst of New York design scene, to meet interesting and important people, to establish friendships and professional relationships that last a lifetime.

Pratt Institute participated last year. As leading this year the workshop, what do you want to add to the mix? What are your expectations for this year workshop?

Last year's workshop was very successful in producing completed objects of very high quality and level of finish. This year, courtesy of Shapeways, an advanced technology becomes a part of the mix. This is both a challenge and an opportunity. Ideally, the objects could be even made in edition. We can go beyond hand-crafted prototypes. The application of 3D printing in furniture and domestic objects is still in infancy stages. I hope our teams are able to chart some viable ways in using the technology and offer the results to professional and public view.

I also expect the results that have a cultural significance. Art critic Nicolas Bouriaud suggested that art and design practice should engage in "… translating ideas, transcoding images, transplanting behaviors, exchanging rather than imposing." This is precisely my goal for setting up a framework for the workshop in New York. 

The Wanted Design School Workshop will take place during New York Design Week from May 17-23. The final projects will be displayed and winning teams will be announced at WantedDesign Manhattan on May 23. 

The workshop was made possible thanks to Shapeways, FilzFelt, XL Airways, wood mentor Omar Muniz, textile mentor Kelly Harris Smith, 3D printing mentor Lauren Slowik and forceMAJEURE, the "classroom base" for the workshop.

Learn more about WantedDesign NYC and their NY Design Week events here

As an "Eff-You" to Anish Kapoor, Artist Stuart Semple Makes Super-Black Paint Available to All

Wed, 2017-04-19 17:24

Should any artist possess the exclusive rights to a color? As you may remember, last year Anish Kapoor announced he had done just that with Vantablack, the blackest substance known to man.

After Kapoor acquired those rights, however, Vantablack developer Surrey Nanosystems developed an even darker version. Architecture firms and deep-pocketed luxury watch manufacturers were reportedly interested in using the color.

For the rest of us on ordinary budgets, British artist Stuart Semple collaborated "with thousands of artists from all over the world" to create Black 2.0, a super-black paint with similar properties to Vantablack. Semple has been manufacturing it and making it available for £11.99 (USD $15) for a 150mL bottle.

What's amusing is that he's clearly done this as an eff-you to Kapoor. Here are some of the paint's listed properties:

* Unique acrylic co-polymer binder enables more pigment load than any other acrylic paint
* Developed for artists by artists
* Non Toxic
* Priced at what it costs to make
* Shippable worldwide
* Not available to Anish Kapoor

And some of the descriptive copy:

[Black 2.0] has been developed in close collaboration with thousands of artists from all over the world. Their amazing insight, support and inspiration has formed this unique super-black paint for the benefit of all artists*

*Except Anish Kapoor IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE: this is not the blackest black in the world. It is however a better black than the blackest black in the world as it is actually usable by artists. *Note: By adding this product to your cart you confirm that you are not Anish Kapoor, you are in no way affiliated to Anish Kapoor, you are not purchasing this item on behalf of Anish Kapoor or an associate of Anish Kapoor. To the best of your knowledge, information and belief this material will not make its way into the hands of Anish Kapoor.

Black 2.0 has proven so popular that Semple's last batch sold out. He's been producing more and expects to have the next batch ready for sale by today, April 19th.

How the Nubrella Evolved into a Specialty Accessory for Photographers

Wed, 2017-04-19 17:24

Steven M. Johnson's Armbrella might not be a real product, but the Nubrella is. When we first wrote about it nearly ten years ago, it was a relatively lightweight product and looked like this:

However, it's now evolved into something considerably clunkier:

This is a good example of how great concepts can run into trouble once they hit the real world. In its latest evolution, the Nubrella is less of an accessory that you spontaneously grab while heading out the door, and more of a contraption that you must strap yourself into with premeditation.

Think of trying to climb into a taxi while wearing this, or of where you would store it up arriving at your office. And even though it can be temporarily retracted, imagine the drip trail it would leave behind you if you entered a store. Additionally, the coverage area doesn't appear particularly effective. Here it looks less like something meant to keep your body dry and more like an oversized hat.

Does this mean the design is a failure? No, it just means that it's too specialized for general consumer use. But as photography blog Shutterbug points out, one killer app for the Nubrella is for the outdoor photographer shooting in the rain.

There are plenty of products designed to keep cameras dry in a storm, but virtually nothing for the photographer him/herself. The Nubrella's hands-free design is perfect for a shooter in inclement weather.

So, while the Nubrella is not well-suited for the general consumer use that was first envisioned, it has turned out to be a useful piece of specialty gear for an underserved market. There's a lesson for design entrepreneurs in here.

Design Job: It's Ergonomic! Dauphin is Seeking an Entry Level Interior Designer in Boonton, NJ

Wed, 2017-04-19 17:24

Dauphin seeks an entry level (December 2016 graduate or May 2017 graduate) Interior Designer who has a passion for furniture to join the design team in Boonton, NJ. The ideal individual should be well versed in Interior Design, but have a passion for 3D environment modeling and rendering. This

View the full design job here

The Industrial Design Prototyping Process, Part 1: Ideation and Sketching

Wed, 2017-04-19 17:24

This is an eight-part series by industrial designer Eric Strebel, founder of Botzen Design, where he lets you follow along as he prototypes a portable solar charging unit.

The all-important prototyping process can be different between industrial designers and projects, but one thing that doesn't change is that you start with ideation. Before you spend any real money, you want to first figure out what's what by making basic, inexpensive mock-ups and doing a lot of sketching to identify and solve potential problems:


Explore Core77 Using Our New Category Menu!

Wed, 2017-04-19 17:24

With the introduction of a new category menu to both our desktop and mobile homepages, you now have two navigation options! You can either search through your favorite article categories using our new drop-down menus or scroll through our site like before. Whichever method you choose, we hope your experience on our site is more personal and enjoyable than ever before. 


Animal Photographer with a Different Perspective

Wed, 2017-04-19 17:24

Most of us see our dogs from this angle, as we're taller than them:

German photographer Andrius Burba, however, has found a different perspective. "I've recently found a great interest in taking pictures of various animals from underneath," he writes.

Prior to shooting dogs, Burba began with cats:

Amazingly, he's also done horses:

You can see more of Burba's work, and/or buy one of his photo books, here.

Questioning the Cult of the Sketch

Wed, 2017-04-19 17:24

This article originally appeared on Coroflot, Core77's Design Job site. Visit their blog for more insight on working and recruiting in the creative professions.

Note: This article was originally written by Carl Alviani

Designers must draw. We pretty much all agree on that one. Regardless of whether we're designing buildings, products, clothes or even web pages, a good number of us are judged—and judge each other—on our ability to snag a sheet of paper from the printer and quickly draft something beautiful and compelling.

This makes sense if you examine the history of these professions. Until the advent of desktop CAD, being a designer or architect meant being a draftsman too, for some or all of your career. The daily impression of pen on paper lent itself to the building of visual eloquence, and more importantly a lasting professional culture of valuing that eloquence.

In light of this culture, it's surprising to look back on the work of great designers of the early and mid 20th century and realize that what's usually depicted is the product itself: Russel Wright's teapot, the Eames' chaise lounge, Dieter Rams' phonograph. With few exceptions, when a book or exhibit highlights great product design, for example, the sketches associated with them are brought out only sparingly. This is partly because the design has passed into the realm of general public awareness, and plenty of non-designers are looking at them. It's also because a lot of them aren't that good.

Now, before you jump up and start shoving gorgeous car renderings from GM's glory days in my face, let me hastily acknowledge that the history of design has plenty of pretty pictures in it. The aforementioned auto designers drew beautifully, of course, as did influential product designers like Raymond Loewy and Alvar Aalto.

When thumbing through texts on classic designs though, one thing that jumps out about the accompanying sketches is how bad many of them are. Verner Panton's doodles for his eponymous plastic chair? Childish. Marc Newson's sketches for his Ford Concept Car? Boring, basic line drawings. Even the sainted Eames' sketches are more cartoons than evocative perspective work. Yet they're all brilliant designers, and brilliant designs. The longer you examine them, the more you question whether there is any correlation between drawing ability and design ability.

Ray Eames, Sketch of Chairs, Source: Eidelberg M et al. The Eames Lounge Chair: An Icon of Modern Design, via www.studio-international.co.uk

Last week, I worked with the local chapter of the IDSA to host a professional development event, at which several local designers and recruiters related their experiences finding and hiring creative talent. The final speaker, a Creative Director at Nike, spoke about his own hiring practices, and the characteristics of a good portfolio. The point on which he became most emphatic was the need to draw beautifully. "It is absolutely incredible to me," he proclaimed, "the number of portfolios we receive from applicants who simply don't know how to sketch well. A designer who can't sketch is like a journalist who can't write!" These were not idle words; he's been hiring and managing designers for well over a decade, and has dozens of successful products in his personal portfolio.

After the formal presentation, he brought the portfolio out for the collected students and designers in the room to examine. It was, as expected, stunningly beautiful. A crowd quickly formed, and I retreated with a colleague—an experienced Industrial Designer who's worked with Intel and IDEO, among others—to grab a glass of wine and discuss. "Yeah, I understand where he's coming from, and I'm sure that level of sketch ability is necessary in his studio," she said, "but I honestly don't think it's a universal." She's the first to point out that she has hardly any sketching ability whatsoever. "I research, I write, I give presentations."

Does such an approach constitute good design, even without the hot sketching? By any assessment of results, it absolutely does: she holds an ID degree, does top-notch design research, plans out interfaces and work flows, directs and informs design teams, and produces great work. It's almost guaranteed that this particular Creative Director would never hire her, and that doesn't seem to bother her in the least.

The applicability of the statement, "Designers must draw," becomes a little problematic in this light. Must they? The answer depends a lot on what comes to mind when you imagine a designer doing her job. Someone sitting at a table with a pile of markers and pencils, making marks on paper, constitutes an important but small fraction of the design process. The rest of it involves research, reviewing prototypes, writing briefs, driving CAD, talking to clients, and a hundred other things. There are plenty of designers—good ones—who haven't picked up a marker in years.

So why the fixation on sketching ability? It'd be easy to attribute it to some outdated romantic notion, but this is oversimplification of a different sort. It's more correct to say that sketching is a necessary skill, but one where the expected level of ability may exceed what's really necessary to get the job done. That said, car and shoe designers still develop concepts almost entirely in 2D, and therefore need freakishly good skills.

Opinions vary wildly on this point. At the same event, a creative recruiter from Filter Talent pointed out that the technical tools associated with most creative work are becoming so cheap and easy to learn that practically anyone can pick them up in a few weeks, call herself a designer, and apply for a job. Recruiters get buried under low-quality portfolios from kids who've picked up a little Flash and Photoshop, but haven't really sweated out the creative process to the point where they're any good.

And this may be the real value of good sketching: it's a skill that's extremely cheap to practice but takes extraordinary dedication to learn. Ask any designer the trick to sketching well, and they will almost always reply that you just have to do it a lot. There is no short cut, and no piece of software can take its place; and this makes it an outstanding differentiator of design ability as a whole. If you've put in the time and effort to learn how to sketch quickly and draw beautifully, goes the unspoken theory, you've probably got the passion and dedication to be a good designer overall.

So, do you really have to learn how to draw? The answer depends on what job you want to land. If you're dreaming of designing the next Air Jordan, Mini Cooper, or anything else that lives and dies by its visual appeal, then the answer is Absolutely Yes.

For the rest of you: even if you barely use it a year from now, you'll be judged by it, so it certainly couldn't hurt.

If you do have hot sketching skills, enter to compete in Coroflot's Sketch Jam competition happening in Portland, OR on April 26th! This is your chance to win a brand spankin' new Cintiq 27 tablet and more importantly, mad bragging rights.

Reader Submitted: BetaJet T1: Automated Injection Molding System

Wed, 2017-04-19 17:24

The T1 is a professional grade automated injection molding system.As part of a full service platform that provides on-demand molds and resins, anyone with a CAD file can begin plastic part production on location at their facility with end use resolution. Parts can be made rigid, flexible, impact resistant, and heat resistant with any color or texture. This allows any company to do their own pilot production, market tests, and low volume manufacturing all with significant cost savings over current production options.

View the full project here

A Beautiful But Hidden Bike Multitool

Wed, 2017-04-19 17:24

Multitools are pretty personal, much like riding styles and the bikes that need fixing, but most just gently tweak the same old tools and features. So whenever someone manages to make a truly compact multitool that somehow improves on the existing folding hex wrench sets, I get pretty hyped. 

The All In Multitool is a fun adaptation of the familiar boxy wrench sets that stashes the tools right inside hollow axle cranks. It fits inside common MTB models (think Shimano Hollowtech II, Race Face Cinch, or most SRAM), slipping into the hollow shaft and adhering with the cap's strong magnetic ring. 

via Radavist

It fits in Allen keys from 3 to 6mm, a Philips and a torx T25 wrench, plus room for a couple extra chain links—a life saving addition in my humble experience. The flip out socket and knurled top cap combine for a decent amount of versatility and hand torque, addressing my central concern with short and round bodied tools.

The idea of trusting a magnet to hold my tools together also seems a little dubious, but founder and designer Giacomo Macoratti has tested the tools since their earliest 3D printed iterations, and got the interest of Greg Minnaar and Steve Peat, two verifiable thrashers of downhill racing. Both of them rode the Enduro World Series in with an All In installed, and if they can't bash it out while riding, my plodding ass probably wouldn't either. 

Plus the All In already won a Design & Innovation Award for the year, so shake your Park Tool MT-30 at that. 

via Radavist

The flashy Italian design looks cool in the hand and is low profile when installed. All in all a well thought out update to the standard tool kit with a couple extra points for sneaky stashing.

Milan Design Week 2017: School is in Session

Wed, 2017-04-19 17:24

Beyond the countless brands and blockbusters, design school exhibitions are easily among the more rewarding events in Milan during the Salone del Mobile. Not only do the universities and academies offer a highly visible platform for the students themselves, but the exhibitions also serve as inspiration for current and prospective students. Practicing designers, on the other hand, may appreciate the heady innocence of being in school and the excitement of showing on the world stage for the first time.

The most important point, of course, is that the school exhibitions offer a taste of the next generation of design and designers. We've already looked at HEAD Genève's "Salone Ludico"; here's a survey of several other strong showings, from the likes of Aalto University, a dark horse; ECAL, the powerhouse; Central St. Martins, an impressive pre-grad show; and the SAIC, the stateside contenders. 

Aalto University presents NakunaTo celebrate the centennial of Finnish independence, the university staged a large-scale exhibition and public program at the Circolo Filologico in Milan's city center.Photo credit: Ray HuAalto University presents NakunaOrganized by the Department of Design within the School of Arts, the exhibition comprised several parts across two floors, starting with the installation in the atriumPhoto credit: Ray HuAalto University presents NakunaOrganized by the Department of Design within the School of Arts, the exhibition comprised several parts across two floors, starting with the installation in the atriumPhoto credit: Ray HuAalto University - "Laavu""Laavu" is a parable about the "Everyman's Right" to forage in Finland. The story is literally told through an illustrated book...Photo credit: Ray HuAalto University - "Laavu"...intertwined with a gastronomic experience, in which visitors were invited to sample Finland's native berries, mushrooms, and water (in the form of popsicles).Photo credit: Ray HuAalto University - "Laavu"The thoughtful, quirky installation was just one of the exhibitions at the Circolo Filologica.Photo credit: Ray HuAalto University - "LOUD"The other presentations were rather more conventional, but equally well executed.Photo credit: Ray HuAalto University - "LOUD"For one thing, the Collaborative and Industrial Design Masters department presented "LOUD," a collaboration with Bang & Olufsen.Photo credit: Ray HuAalto University - "LOUD"For the Form Exploration course, students developed a collection of contemporary home audio products. More details about the studio and each project are available online.Photo credit: Ray HuAalto University - Aamu Salo, "Fictional Functions"In one of the project rooms upstairs, textile/fashion designer Aamu Salo examined the rituals around personal possessions.Photo credit: Ray HuView the full gallery here

Using Chronophotography to Capture the Flights of Birds

Tue, 2017-04-18 17:06

There used to be an exciting anticipation with pre-digital photography: You hit the shutter button, then waited hours or days to see how the film came out. Digital photography has wiped that out with screens delivering instant gratification.

However, some photographers that shoot digital, like Xavi Bou, still have to wait to see what they captured. Bou uses the technique of chronophotography, in which dozens of shots are layered in postproduction, to produce his "Ornitographies" series capturing the flights of birds. The results are pretty stunning:

See more of Bou's stuff here.

Via Time Wheel

Design Job: It Might Get Loud. LOUD Technologies is Seeking an Industrial Designer in Woodinville, WA

Tue, 2017-04-18 17:06

LOUD Technologies Inc. is one of the world’s largest dedicated pro audio and music products companies. As the corporate parent for world-recognized brands including Ampeg, EAW, Mackie and Martin Audio, LOUD Technologies Inc. produces a wide range of digital recording products, loudspeakers, commercial audio systems, audio and music software and

View the full design job here

A Short History of Design Leadership

Tue, 2017-04-18 17:06

Recently throughout the business press, there have been countless articles about CCOs and CDOs and their value. Large companies like Coca Cola, Pepsi, 3M, Electrolux, and Hyundai have added these positions over the last few years. Most people behave like this is a remarkable new development. It has been the right of the professional practice of design to have a seat at the table since the inception of the industry. We just stopped demanding it.

Some of the most famous and influential people early the in the professional practice of industrial design—Raymond Loewy, Walter Dorwin Teague, Harley Earl and later Dieter Rams—exerted tremendous influence over corporations by working at the executive level. The foundation they laid gives us various models for different types of modern design leaders.

Harley Earl was likely the first corporate VP of Design. He joined GM in the 1920s after a Cadillac dealer purchased his father's custom body shop. Over time he established some of the first in-house corporate design teams, starting with the "Art and Color" department, then later the "Styling Department". As the GM portfolio of brands grew, each division got another design team, all lead by Harley. Earl had the ear of Alfred P. Sloan, who was then the CEO, and Earl was able to get him to understand the value of design to attract and retain loyal users. Earl created the concept of the Auto Show, then called GM Autoramas. Here Earl had full control of incredibly expensive show cars that were created to flex his team's muscles. He used concept vehicles to influence product roadmaps and features by going around production limitations and creating demand straight from the public. During Earl's tenure, GM became the largest corporation in the world.

Raymond Loewy took a different approach to design leadership. Emigrating to the United States in the 1920's, Loewy set up a design consulting office in New York. Loewy quickly learned that to do the work and exert the level of influence he wanted to, he needed to collaborate directly with his clients' founders, president's, and CEOs. This approach elevated his practice from focusing on quick churn-and-burn project work to long-standing relationships with brands like Coca Cola, Lucky Strike, Greyhound, Studebaker, Pennsylvania Railroad and U-Haul. Working directly with company executives Loewy was able to influence branding, packaging, and advertising in addition to their actual products. In this fashion he implemented some of the earliest forms of design language systems. This expansive thinking, designing everything, is essentially the role of the modern design executive.

Hybridizing the methods of Earl and Lowey, Walter Dorwin Teague took a different approach. Teague started out in advertising in the 1900's. After a successful 18-year career he saw the early rise of industrial design and shifted his practice to include product design, branding, exhibit design, and packaging. While working across many clients, he was a big believer in bringing design teams to work locally with a company. His teams became direct extensions of the client's team. He did this most successfully with Kodak and Boeing. In fact, the Boeing relationship was so successful it still exists to this day. If you fly on a Boeing, chances are that someone at Teague designed the interior.

So three of our industry's founders were all operating at the executive level in different ways. Fast forward a couple of decades to Germany in 1955 where Dieter Rams was hired by the Braun brothers. You might be familiar with the hundreds of products Rams and his team designed there, as well as the guiding principles he created, the 10 commandments of design. What you may not know is that Rams was hired at Braun as an architect and interior designer. He became the head of design just 6 years later in 1961. He held this position until 1995, at which point he actually had a seat on the board of directors of the company.

So what do these four people have in common with each other and how does it relate to the modern design leader? They all share four character traits that helped them become great leaders in our field:

Expansive Thinking
Each one started with a specialty, not necessarily industrial design, and they gained deep knowledge of their chosen field. They then leveraged that knowledge to take on more and more design activities until the entire creative practice was under their purview. Their deep experience in a particular area gave them the confidence to try their skills at other areas of the business. Demonstrated success earned the credibility required to win additional resources, which then allowed them to build teams and extend their responsibilities. Think of Harley Earl, head of design, making such a huge marketing call to create a traveling exhibition of his own concept cars. It was a bold move, but now the entire industry does it. One thing I've learned is that if you are not expanding your influence, you are contracting. If you continually show you can do more, your budget will continue to grow. If you maintain the same level of contributions, eventually someone will ask for a budget cut.

Dissatisfaction with the Status Quo
When you dig into the history, in many cases this expansion in responsibilities came from dissatisfaction of how non-creative people were running design. I experienced this first hand as the CDO of Sound United from 2012-2017. Initially I was focused on building the Industrial Design practice. After a year of establishing that, I wanted to bring packaging under my wing, at which point I gained a graphic design team. Dissatisfied with the advertising we were getting from agencies, I had my team start producing our own print and digital ads, which lead to the company eliminating outside agencies. We saved money, raised quality, and gained photography and copywriting resources. Lastly I noticed how much we were spending on outside video production. Using the past success with print and digital ads, I convinced our CEO to allow me to hire a video and motion graphics designer. Within 5 years, I had a team that controlled every creative output; industrial design, UI/UX, packaging, advertising, video, retail displays, trade show exhibits… as Raymond Loewy once said "Never leave well enough alone".

A Teacher's Disposition
Looking back at my time in design school, the hardest instructors are the ones I remember most. Even though at the time it felt like they were dragging me through hell, they were the ones who helped me grow. All 4 of these design leaders had reputations for being notoriously difficult to work with, relentlessly demanding the best out of their teams. They believed their people could do things that others said were impossible. This belief pushed their people to deliver, which in turn helped them grow. The fun thing about stretching is you never go back to the same size. Many of their protégés went on to have outsized careers of their own. They realized that the end product lasts a lot longer than a difficult conversation or a late night working. In the end, the work is what prevails.

Manage Up as well as Down
The traits above will help any design leader manage their team to success. But the single biggest reason these designers got seats at the leadership table is because they took it. In business you're rarely simply handed an opportunity to excel and expand—you have to prove that you are a leader and then essentially demand to be treated and compensated as such. This is not to say you should have a false sense of bravado or entitlement. On the contrary, after you demonstrate that you can contribute at a high level, can coach others to do the same and have the ability to extend beyond your specialty, you have truly earned a seat at the big table. At this time, you need to ask for it and gladly accept the responsibilities that come along with it.

These same four characteristics always bubble up in conversations with my peers in design leadership. For those of you with the ability and the constitution to weather tough situations, I argue it is your duty to your team and the profession as a whole to step up to the leadership level. We are living through the second wave of design leadership—let's make sure this one lasts.

Ed. Note: Michael will be discussing these ideas and more in a keynote lecture on design leadership at the STRUKTUR Design Conference in Portland, Oregon on April 26th.


Plasticity Forums 2017

Tue, 2017-04-18 17:06

Plasticity Forum will be taking place twice in the upcoming weeks. The first event happens in Dallas, Texas on Friday April 21, as part of Earth Day Texas, the largest Earth Day celebration in the world. More information can be found here and Registration Here

The second event takes place in Anaheim, California on May 9th, as part of the annual ANTEC event of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE). More information can be found here and Registration Here.

Professional designers can get a 30% discount on their registration by using the discount code "Save30" when registering. 

Students can attend both events for free! When registering for the Dallas event use the discount code "Plasticity100", and when registering for the Aneheim event use the code "Plasticity Univ". 

Plasticity is a unique event, convening global experts from across the plastic spectrum to share experiences on opportunities and challenges with plastic sustainability and inclusion in the circular economy, thus bringing about the large scale changes that are required in order to reduce its waste impacts. Designers and industry experts will participate in moderated panel discussions and presentations covering a range of topics related to recycled content, resource recovery, job creation and waste reduction. 

Milan Design Week 2017: Best in Glass

Tue, 2017-04-18 17:06

Just over a century ago, Paul Scheerbart noted that "the new glass environment will completely transform mankind, and it remains only to wish that the new glass culture will not find too many opponents." Captivated by Bruno Taut's 1914 glass pavilion, the writer painted a utopian picture of a crystalline future, equally panoramic and kaleidoscopic, all thanks to the transparent building material. Suffice it to say that he would have been chagrined to learn that visitors to, say, Massimiliano Fuksas' formidable Fieramilano spend more time in its hangar-like exhibition halls than they do admiring its soaring glass canopy (ditto I.M. Pei's ziggurat-like Javits Center).

Architectural applications aside, "glass culture" continues to thrive at the scale of product design and craft. From a breakthrough in 3D-printed glass to a collection of pieces from weekend workshop in Portugal, here are a few noteworthy new glass projects from Milan this year.

The Mediated Matter Group - "Ancient Yet Modern"

Led by Neri Oxman, this research group at MIT's Media Lab first published its findings in optically transparent 3D-printed glass back in 2015. Now, with G3DP2, the whiz-kids have scaled the technology up, from product scale to that of architecture. To show off their latest efforts, the Mediated Matter Group installed "Ancient Yet Modern," a series of three freestanding columns embedded with synapse-light pulsing lights, at the Triennale di Milano.

Project Team: Chikara Inamura (project lead), Michael Stern, Daniel Lizardo, Tal Achituv, Tomer Weller, Owen Trueblood, Nassia Inglessis, Giorgia Franchin, Kelly Donovan, Peter Houk (project adviser), Prof. Neri Oxman (project and group director).

Project Associates: Andrea Magdanz, Susan Shapiro, David J. Benyosef, Mary Ann Babula, Forrest Whitcher, Robert Philips, Neils La White, Paula Aguilera, Jonathan Williams, Andy Ryan, Jeremy Flower.

Off Portugal presents Glass Cares

On the other end of the proverbial spectrum, OFF Portugal took the time-honored tack of gathering designers for a weekend workshop — in this case, glass-blowing in Marinha Grande. Two days in the making as opposed to two years, the resulting ten pieces offer a nice capsule collection of Portuguese design today as young designers look to move beyond the nation's ready association with cork. The glass workshop 

The glass workshop and exhibition in Ventura Lambrate marks the debut of OFF Portugal, a joint effort between Vicara, Arquivo 237, and Cencal; future initiatives will explore other craft and manufacturing techniques.

Participating designers: Diana Medina, Eneida Lombe Tavares, Luis Nascimento, studio ojoaoeamaria, Jorge Carreira, Paulo Sellmayer, Samuel Reis, Vitor Agostinho, Manuel Amaral Netto, and Joana Silva

Salviati presents Decode/Recode

Speaking of long traditions, Venice-based Salviati is among the world's oldest glass factories, dating back to 1859. For this year's Milan design week, the Murano specialists presented a pair of installations at the newly minted Ventura Centrale district, a series of cavernous makeshift galleries underneath the train tracks. For Decode/Recode, Salviati invited Luca Nichetto and Ben Gorham to create modular works of glass, "Pyrae" and "Strata."

Having long collaborated with his fellow Venetians — Salviati produced his first piece — Nichetto developed 25 modules that are combined in different configurations to create the 53 totem-pole-like figures, each illuminated from within. Meanwhile, Gorham, a perfumer by profession, opted for luminous towers to showcase glass tiles in various textures and finishes.

Spektacularis at Matter and Muse

An entirely unexpected joint effort between Filipino industrial designers and Czech master glassblowers, Spektacularis was one of three exhibitors in Matter and Muse, which occupied a modest gallery at the Palazzo Litta. The mutual unfamiliarity yielded expected results, hybrid objets d'art that incorporate elements of both cultures.

Participating designers: Stanley Ruiz, Liliana Manahan, Gabriel Lichauco, Jiri Panicek

"Prism" collection by Tomás AlonsoAtelier Swarovski Home at Palazzo Crespi

The Austrian crystal producer unveiled its latest home decor collections, developed by designers such as 2016 Swarovski Designer of the Future winners Studio Brynjar & Veronika and Tomás Alonso, who extended his collection. Scintillating though the wares may be, the gilded setting stole the show.

"Prism" collection by Tomás Alonso "Prism" collection by Tomás Alonso "Currents" collection by Studio Brynjar & Veronika

Other new Swarovski Home collections (not pictured) were designed by Aldo Bakker, Barbara Barry, Andre Kikoski, and Greg Lynn.

Roll & Hill launched Ladies & Gentlemen Studio's new "Kazimir" chandelier at Euroluce. Art/design history buffs can probably guess which Suprematist painter inspired the Brooklyn-based duo.Also noteworthy

Naturally, this is just a selection of works in glass from design week in Milan; here are a few others that also caught our eye at the Salone and beyond. 

The New York-based lighting company also debuted the "Coax" collection by John HoganMeanwhile, at SaloneSatellite, Berlin's Mendelheit Design Lab showed a mix of products, including several glass pieces. Created in a mold made from up to 128 different blocks, the "Tombola" generative vase can take countless forms.Germans Ermics exhibited three ombre pieces at Rossana Orlandi; the chair, in particular, is an homage to Shiro Kuramata (forgive the awkward photo and check out more on his website)