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A Device to Whip Out at the Movies When Your Neighbor Hogs the Arm Rest

Mon, 2017-05-22 16:33

A folding device that doubles the area of an armrest, clipping onto a seat (such as airplanes, buses, movie theaters, etc.) to give users on either side their own space. Also known as a Portable Armrest Extender/Divider. Solves the problem of fighting for armrests.

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Mid Century Modern Find of the Week: Bertil Fridhagen Club Chair

Mon, 2017-05-22 16:33

This elegant teak framed club chair was designed by Bertil Fridhagen for Bröderna Andersson in the 1960s.

Sophisticated teak banding runs from the arms to the back of this lounge chair.

The upholstery you see is not original, by the way; we had the chair recovered with new foam and blue wool by Kvadrat.

Here's a few more detail shots:

Chairs like this aren't available too often, and this is a great example of mid century design from Sweden, which is commonly overlooked.


These "Mid Century Modern Find of the Week" posts are provided courtesy of Mid Century Møbler, which specializes in importing vintage Danish Modern and authentic Mid Century furniture from the 1950s and 1960s.

Multifunction Slab Work Table

Mon, 2017-05-22 16:33

Carpenters and woodworkers who want a work table that can be used for clamping would do well to consider the MFSlab, a one-inch MDF top that can be placed on whatever sawhorses are handy. The brainchild of Steve Olson, a remodeler in San Francisco, it is intended to be a job site alternative to the Festool MFT Table.

Olson uses an MFT in the shop but finds it too heavy and bulky to be easily carried onto urban job sites and too expensive to leave there overnight. An MFSlab can be made for a fraction of the cost of an MFT and is more easily stored and transported.

The 20mm holes in the top of the MFSlab accept a variety of specialized clamps and dogs for horizontal and vertical clamping. Standard clamps can be inserted through slots at the perimeter and used to clamp material to the edge. 

Shallow troughs near the edge of the top hold small parts and tools. An open slot in the edge holds a Festool vacuum hose when it's not connected to a machine; there's no reason it couldn't be sized to fit other brands and types of hose. The design includes a lower shelf that is slotted to hold circular saws and other tools in an upright position.

The MFSlab could have been made with hand-held power tools but Olson chose to subcontract the most tedious part of the job, giving a CAD file of the design to a shop with a CNC machine and having them cut the holes and slots. Olson did the finishing touches himself, using a router to ease the edges and cut troughs. Those parts of the job could have been done by CNC, but the setup charges would have added disproportionately to the cost.

Including the CNC work Olson spent $250 for two such tops and shelves, which is just over half the cost of the least expensive MFT.  It would have cost even less if he'd been willing to drill and cut everything himself. The CAD file is available for purchase on his website.

Design Job: All Aboard! Yellow Window is Seeking a Transportation Designer in Antwerp, Belgium

Mon, 2017-05-22 16:33

YELLOW WINDOW is looking for a designer to join their multi-national design team in Antwerp, Belgium. Our world-renowned expertise in mobility in public transport and product design brings a steady flow of challenging projects where product design, design for mobility and service design meet. Founded over 40 years

View the full design job here

Watch a Multigenerational Group of Artists Quickly Sketch an Aeron Chair in 360 Degrees

Sun, 2017-05-21 16:06

This is oddly compelling. A Japanese TV show has a regular segment where they assemble a group of artists, ranging in age from children to the elderly, in a circle around an object. They each then draw the object from their perspective and in their unique sketching style. In this episode the subject is one of the finest examples of industrial design from the last century, the Aeron Chair:

The show is called Design Ah! and is intended to educate children about design. I'm trying to find out more about the show, what the 360 sketching segment is called and where I can find more, but the program's Japanese-language website is untranslatable. If any of our Japanese readers can offer any assistance, please do chime in!

Good Thing Teams with Shaving Brand Harry's to Revive a Classic Design Object

Sun, 2017-05-21 16:06

Household accessories brand Good Thing is busy for this year's edition of NYCxDesign, kicking things off with an elegant collaborative exhibit at WANTED Design Manhattan featuring one classic item: the shaving brush. This redesign is not by chance, as they've teamed up with shaving accessory delivery giant Harry's to organize the show. Good Thing's own Jamie Wolfond said they've wanted to team up with Harry's for a while: "we're excited to see such a fast-growing startup take on such a design-focused approach to their products. We wanted to help them reach the design-savvy audience that has come to know Good Thing products but maybe isn't yet aware of Harry's commitment to good design."

Redesigning a shaving brush is a curious concept to begin with as it reads more "nostalgic design object" than it does "modern necessity"—both companies, however, saw this as a welcome challenge. "[The shaving brush is a] ritualistic tool for self-care that has been largely overlooked by the design community," says Wolfond, "it's a memory-packed device – it often evokes images of fathers, grandfathers, and other dapper gentlemen of yore. This provided our designers great material to work with."

Brush by Chen Chen & Kai Williams 

Working with 13 different designers for this exhibition, the brushes all seem to play on particular narratives of nostalgia, which Good Thing notes will be highlighted at WANTED in a printed publication detailing the backstory behind a few of the pieces. For example, design duo Chen & Kai's contribution was initially inspired by Chen's childhood camping trips:

"I lived in Wyoming as a child and my parents would take me camping in the Rockies. One time we had a giant bonfire next to a lake and threw all the aluminum cans into the fire. The next morning I was amazed the cans had all melted down. When we melt aluminum – that moment when the solid starts dissolving – I always think of that experience of and watching Terminator 2 on VHS all the time as a kid."

Aside from the same classic badger brush head, the objects featured in the collection each carry an entirely distinct identity. Ranging from "process-based experimental practitioners to functionality-driven industrial designers," as Good Thing puts it, this diverse combination of minds resulted in several elegant takes on a classic (not to mention some downright wacky reinterpretations). 

Take a look below at some different variations:

Designed by the Harry's design team Designed by VisibilityDesigned by Norma Designed by Earnest StudioDesigned by Fredericks and MaeDesigned by Branch Creative

Interested in finding one of these brushes for purchase? The pieces included in the collection were initially envisioned as one-offs for this special exhibition, but according to Wolfond, thanks to heightening interest those plans may change: "so far we have had such a positive response that we'd be interested to see at least a couple in mass production!"

The collection of shaving brushes will be on display at Good Thing's booth at WANTED Design Manhattan beginning this Saturday, May 20th.

Want to see more NYCxDesign events worth attending? Visit our Core77 "Navigating New York Design Week" Map

Reader Submitted: Macaron Seats Explore the Possibilities of Locally Recycled Rubber Crumbs

Sun, 2017-05-21 16:06

For Dubai Design Days 2017, Bee'ah, the Middle East's leading integrated environmental management company based in Sharjah, U.A.E, has commissioned KALO as one of two teams of designers to explore the potential of using its locally recycled rubber crumbs in a furniture collection.

Ammar Kalo's Macaron Seats explore the raw material's softness, compressibility and ability to bond with other recycled materials such as wood chips to redefine the relationship between soft and hard surfaces within a chair.

View the full project here

How a Tape Measure Works, and How It's Made

Sun, 2017-05-21 16:06

If you're creative, there are plenty of tools you can get away with not having in your shop, but a tape measure isn't one of them. The indispensable and almost absurdly inexpensive object truly is a marvel of design and engineering. Here's how the thing works and how it's made, all revealed in under three minutes:

Design Job: California Dreaming! Ricardo Beverly Hills is Seeking a Designer in Kent, WA

Sun, 2017-05-21 16:06

Designer, for bags, luggage and accessories. Ricardo Beverly Hills is searching for an industrial designer with a passion for travel, keen eye for style and fashion, and understanding of materials and processes. The ideal candidate will have a experience designing from concept through to production, the ability to

View the full design job here

Tools & Craft #47: What Do You Do When Making Something is Bad For Your Body?

Sun, 2017-05-21 16:06

In the "good ol' days," grinders would sit for 8-10 hours a day straddling a 4-foot diameter solid sandstone grinding wheel spinning at a surface speed of about 60 miles per hour. While wheel explosions were rare, early death from silicosis wasn't. It was a known occupational hazard, but grinders were willing to risk respiratory problems and perhaps an early death in return for pretty good wages. Back then most folks didn't have the luxury of thinking long-term and there was no shortage of apprentice grinders.

Fast forward 150 years to present day Brooklyn. In the Gramercy Tools workshop we do what some might consider an excessive amount of hand filing. We hand-sharpen all our saws, and we manufactured this beautiful line of Kings County Hammers where we hand-filed every last decorative detail:

We do/did it that way because it's traditional, we love the old ways, and honestly the results speak for themselves. However in both cases we have found the learning curve for filers to be high and the people who have the skill for the work don't want to do it day in and day out - no matter the pay.

Nearly all of our top filers have experienced hand/elbow/wrist problems at one time or another. It's not the sort of thing that makes us feel good about handwork. Part of the issue is that we've grown. We simply make more saws now than ever before. Also, the files that are available today are of significantly worse quality than a few years ago, and don't remove material as quickly. So, we have to file more. This raises our cost and in general requires more work to get a consistent product we are proud of.

The issues raised by repetitive stress injury caused by following traditional manufacturing methods are substantial, and increasingly relevant as we see more and more folks interested in returning to traditional methods of manufacturing. Is grinding without proper dust collection "old timey" or simply stupid? Is repetitive stress injury an acceptable by-product of a world-class saw or hammer? In both cases the answer is obvious. No product is worth endangering the wellbeing of an employee, after all it's no longer the "good" ol' days.

As we see it, a responsible company has the following possible solutions:

1. Stop making hand-filed products.
2. Drastically reduce the workload per-filer and raise prices accordingly.
3. Outsource the work so that it becomes someone else's problem.
4. Automate portions of our process, reducing the necessary handwork.

There was only one right answer for us, #4. We are highly invested in growing as a company, in maintaining our reputation for the highest quality, and in the health and well-being of our employees.

The reason we were hand-filing the Kings County Hammers was that our CNC Machine shop, whom we've worked with for years, didn't think they could machine the details - even if cost wasn't an issue. The slight asymmetry of the decoration (which makes it look right to the human eye) makes for exceptionally complicated cutter paths, fragile cutter geometries, and several tooling changes, not to mention complicated fixturing.

After the first batch of hammers were hand-filed, we threw down the gauntlet, and asked the crew over at the machine shop to try again. It took them about a month to get back to us, and the conversation started with "I think we've got it, but you're not going to like the cost."

The rest of the conversation revealed a HUGE surprise: Our hammers cost as much to produce on a CNC mill as they do with a hand file. Almost to the dollar!

So we switched production of the hammers to be done entirely by CNC. At most we'd touch up the decoration after polishing if needed, and that was the only time they saw the business end of a file. And were glad to say, that using CNC gave us a crisper, more consistent look—with a lot less wear and tear on our staff.

So what does this all mean? Were we giving in to computers and machines? We didn't think so; to us, it felt more like we were pulling our heads out of the sand.

There will always be processes that require handwork. For instance, each hammer head still required a ton of hand processing: From patina, to differential tempering over a flame, to mirror polishing, and grinding. But we no longer had the sinking feeling that we're asking the guys and gals in our shop to do something that could lead to injury. And we steadfastly kept production local, and in the hands of craftsmen and women who take pride in producing top quality work. The end result was a better product than we had before without the dumbing down of the design that automation sometimes brings. I think this combined result of hand and CNC puts us squarely in the modern craft tradition - one that dates back to tilt hammers and Jacquard looms.

As of this writing I am working on motion control software to help us file saws. We plan to do the rough tooth forming on custom automated machinery that we are building and programming ourselves. Kris, our head saw filer, is counting the minutes - but it's not because a machine is about to take his job. It's because it's a waste of his time to do anything but the final hand sharpening. Just about everyone agrees that hand filing produces a better saw than machine filing and our competitors seem to agree. They all either machine-filed to save money, or machine-filed then hand-filed over it. We have added a few programming tricks but the real test is coming.

"The Turing Test" proposed by mathematician Alan Turing was an idea to place a human and a computer behind a screen and have people ask questions of them. If the audience couldn't tell which was the machine and which was the human, then we can say artificial intelligence works. Once our new system gets operational, we plan to have a little test - We call it "The Tim Test." We take two saws, one totally hand filed, one filed by machine with final sharpening done by hand. If Tim Corbett, our head designer or anyone else can't tell which is which, then we know we have something we can offer the public. Otherwise - it's back to the drawing board.

As for the hammers, I'm afraid this story doesn't end well. Ultimately we had to stop making them. We were making them out of W1 tool steel that was hardened differentially—soft on the inside, hard on the outside, which made them a pleasure to use—but we could not find a manufacturer who could harden them consistently, and the loss rate became unacceptable.

Still, producing the Kings County Hammer taught us a lot, and raised some very interesting questions for anyone engaged in craftsmanship at a high level. We are firm believers that tradition has shown that progress is a good thing. Gramercy Tools never has and never will make replicas, nor period-correct tools. It will continue to produce tools, and upgrade its production processes in such a way that the tool you buy tomorrow is a better tool than you can buy today, not only in its function, but in its form, and manufacture. And if we cannot make the tool correctly, or can only make it to the peril of our employees, we will not make it at all.


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.